Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s characterization of how some states planned to use the U.S. Agriculture Department’s food stamp program “reprehensible.”
Back in February, Malloy announced that in order to maintain the current benefit levels for nearly 50,000 households it would dedicate additional energy assistance dollars to those recipients. Otherwise, the Farm Bill that Congress passed last month would slash an estimated average of $112 from monthly benefits in Connecticut.
“The governor’s directive to expend $1.4 million in available federal energy assistance funding will preserve approximately $66.6 million annually in SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] benefits for households in Connecticut,” Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes said.
Bloomberg News reported last week that Boehner would act to block states from avoiding $8.6 billion in food-stamp cuts. Boehner referred to states’ decision to dedicate additional energy assistance dollars to the standards utility allowance for eligible SNAP recipients as “cheating” and “fraud.”
Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Montana, Vermont, and Oregon have increased energy assistance in order to maintain current food stamp benefit levels.
“To characterize as cheating and fraud states’ implementation of this provision is disingenuous at best and shameful at worst,” Malloy wrote in a letter to Boehner. “Clearly, Congress intended to grant states the authority to provide this vital benefit which is a lifeline to some of our most vulnerable constituents.”
Malloy, who a few weeks ago took on Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, is not afraid of take on national Republican leaders. This is the second time in more than a year he has written to Boehner. The first was back in January 2013 to encourage him to pass disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy victims.
In his March 17 letter, Malloy went on to state that Boehner’s “demonization of states that have elected to provide this benefit impugns the children, the elderly, the disabled, the low wage workers and veterans who receive such aid by implying that they are a party to something criminal. To the contrary, I think most would argue that denying residents of my state $112 a month in nutrition assistance is morally wrong.”
Malloy ended the letter by quoting Pope Francis:
“In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons.”
Malloy added “Congress wrote the bill. Congress passed the bill. And now states are implementing the law, your reprehensible comments notwithstanding.”